March 2, 2007

"Gloves come off: Mitt has 'choice' words for Giuliani."

Mitts come off: Glove has 'choice' words for Giuliani.

The Daily News reports:
"He is pro-choice, he is pro-gay marriage and anti-gun," Romney said in an interview to air Tuesday on the Christian Broadcasting Network, home to televangelist Pat Robertson. "That's a tough combination in a Republican primary."
Oh, come on. From that headline, I thought he'd said something surprisingly nasty. But it was just absolutely the most conventional thing everyone says about Giuliani. The funny thing is, everyone knows this about Giuliani, and yet he's the big frontrunner. Explain that.


Tim said...

"The funny thing is, everyone knows this about Giuliani, and yet he's the big frontrunner. Explain that."

Easy. We're not as stupid as the lefty book of common prayer portrays us. I'm pro-life, anti-gun control and doubtful of gay marriage, but in Rudy's corner (for now), primarily because he gets the war on terror.

That he's demonstrated leadership in NYC, before 9/11 and on that day, and that he's electable are factors too.

But anyone on the Rep side would be better than a candidate of the Dem's surrender caucus.

Theo Boehm said...

Looks like Plastic Man vs. the Mensch to me.

boldface said...

Seems to me that what is going in is prioritization: what do Republican voters think is really important? Apparently they think leadership ability, middle-class values (such as low crime) and tough foreign policy take precedence over specific program issues that, even after more than 20 years of conservative ascendancy, still didn't happen.

I live in NYC and have semi-mixed feelings about Giuliani. On the one hand, I remember that the 1993 mayoral election - the one in which Rudy was elected for the first time - was the only election in my lifetime (I'm 48) that I had such intense feelings about that I was sure there would be calamity if the candidate I supported didn't win. David Dinkins was such a disaster as mayor that I was sure there would be no NYC left in four years if he was re-elected. Giuliani then spent his first term re-establishing the rule of law and, in general, giving the city back to its citizens and treating the miscreants as miscreants. He was absolutely fabulous in that first term, and he refused to give an inch to the entrenched elites who were out to get him.

But in his second term he got cranky. It became apparent that he didn't really believe in freedom of speech, and I think he didn't deal too well with democratic dissent. What I think happened was this: once the big dragons were slain, he didn't do too well with day to day management, but still had all this power that he was used to wielding, so he kept wielding it even when it wasn't needed. This implies that Rudy is a terrific leader at meeting challenges and achieving big goals. But outside of crisis mode he's not a great manager.

Having said that, I still think he's the best of the lot. The crises are not going to stop coming, and he's the best man to deal with crises.

yetanotherjohn said...

And Mitt is showing himself to be anti-11th commandment. He needs to talk about what he will do if nominated/elected, not the mote's in his fellow candidates eyes.

Bo Steed said...

Rudy G. will be our next President. He is a classic "happy warrior", and can articulate his positions in a way that even those who disagree with him find agreeable.

McCain is too tired, has the termperament of a tyrant, and cannot be forgiven for "Campaign Finance Reform".

Romney's hair is too perfect. This means more than one might think. We don't need any Republican Breck girls. He is exotic in all the wrong ways.

Hillary hectors too much.

Obama is yet ready to close the deal.

Mortimer Brezny said...

He's a bald Italian. Everyone loves bald Italians. Excluding Al D'Amato.

George said...

The best GOP candidate doesn't seem to be running.

He's the former CEO of a major corporation, spent 10 years in the House, Sec. of Defense during wartime, former White House chief of staff....

Dick Cheney.

Cedarford said...

There are signs that the Religious Right is finally getting a little more realistic, vs. absolutist and cause-oriented.
Their big moment came with the Terri Schiavo Fiasco, when they let Right to Life Extremists take the lead. The American public saw zealots that wanted to push their Faith on others. And a future of the Womb Police and the Priest-Inquisitor who would affirm or deny family medical decisions. and take them to court on disagreements.
The public didn't like it one bit.

The Religious Right high water was when they had the Presidency, Congress and basically got nothing done but a damaging stem cell and evolution debate, Harriet Miers nominated in their faces, the Faith-based initiative withering, and Republicans distracted by crony corruption and Iraq.

And virtually no credit for their most impressive feat - which was white churches in the South stepping up and caring for the underclass after 3 major hurricanes when government (except the Guard and Coast Guard) failed to deliver.

Let's just say the Religious Right is regrouping and knows it is in no position of strength to demand litmus tests. Best they can hope for is a Centrist Republican who will block a Lefty Democrat from appointing 2-3 Ruth Bader Ginsburgs to the Court, not use the White House for lesbian wedding ceremonies, and resist UN troops coming it to take away everyones home defense firearms.

So that partially explains no hellfire and brimstone coming down on Rudy. Him saying he now favors "strict constructionists" over Ginsburg types helps, too - though no one totally swallows Rudy's "judicial philosophy" conversion.

Still, Romney and the others enjoying the luxury of the media whittling down on the frontrunners - Hillary, Obama, McCain and Rudy are wise to remind mainstream voters at every chance that the top 2 in each Party oppose the majority of the public on being "pro-choice, pro-gay marriage and anti-gun". With McCain not really 100% pro choice or a gun grabber - but thought to be soft enough he would buckle in a moment if it made the media like him more.

boehm - Looks like Plastic Man vs. the Mensch to me.

Outside NYC and small pockets of influential people elsewhere like Hollywood the term "mensch" is alien to Americans...If Rudy is thought to be a Webb, Reagan, Ollie, the Clinton that "dressed down Jesse" type of guy - that is electable. A Chuck Schumer type of mensch not so, outside NYC and small pockets elsewhere in America.

As for Romney being "plastic", a good part of Americans see that as someone who is well-mannered, with a quality demeanor. A charge of "plastic" was levelled at another candidate who was seen as very nice to other people, smooth, unruffled, able to articulate ideas.


hdhouse said...

"explain that..."

pretty easy. when rudy was asked similar questions (your blog) he waffled on just about everything.

rudy stands, right now, with whatever wind is blowing. beware the person who will say anything or not say anything to win you over.

Patrick said...

What's important to me is not what he said but where he said it. The comments were terribly conventional, but since he chose to say them on Pat Robertson's network I've just found my reason to scratch Romney off my list. This Evangelical has no interest in anyone who panders to Robertson. There are a lot of different ways to reach out to Evangelicals. That Romney is choosing Robertson says to me he has absolutely no idea about these different ways and thus will give Robertson more influence than he deserves.

Anyone who appears with or courts Pat Robertson like this is on my do-not-vote-for list.

Michael Farris said...

"The funny thing is, everyone knows this about Giuliani, and yet he's the big frontrunner. Explain that."

Easy. He hasn't faced any voters yet.

Ta dah!!!!!

Doyle said...

Boy it's a shame when Republicans criticize each other.

Also, does Giuliani's national popularity really have to be explained to you? I could do a demostration with hand puppets and some rubble if you'd like.

Zeb Quinn said...

"The funny thing is, everyone knows this about Giuliani, and yet he's the big frontrunner. Explain that."

Charisma. As in beaucoup. And what was that hitherto arcane word that the MSM discovered and trotted out in 2000, then spontaneously bleated in infinite-part harmony? Oh yeah, gravitas. Gravitas. Also beaucoup. So much so that it trumps everything else. That's why Rudy is the frontrunner.

Besides, considering his background and career, I'm betting that when you scratch the surface you'll find that in his heart of hearts Rudy is really more conservative than liberal/moderate, the latter being merely a persona he adopted out of necessity, so as to thrive as a pol in NYC. To one degree or another the right may sense that.

Joe said...

Some of us republicans are sick and tired of social conservatives and the religious right. We voted for Bush largely because the alternatives were horrible, but are disgusted at his inept handling of fiscal matters (yeah, we knew he wasn't a fiscal conservative, but we thought he would at least pretend.)

When I look at Giuliani's record in running New York City, it gives me great hope. The only chink in his record was his inability to bust the teacher's union, but that was asking a lot. (Perhaps he can get rid of NCLB--one of the biggest liberal boondoggles ever crammed down states' throats--and the Department of Education.)

Mitt did a great job managing the Olympics, but his tenure as governor of Massachusetts was less than stellar, to be nice (okay, he sucked.) Point being that Mitt is a good business executive, but not a very good political executive and we sure as hell don't need another one of those.

(BTW, this is the problem with all the Democrats save Gov. Richardson--they have no political executive experience.)

Theo Boehm said...

I guess I've been hanging around the bicoastal elite too long.  For those of you in fly-over country, here's a dictionary definition of mensch:

mensch |mɛnʃ| noun ( pl. menschen or mensches) informal a person of integrity and honor. ORIGIN 1930s: Yiddish mensh, from German Mensch, literally ‘person.’

I've always understood it to mean 'stand-up guy.'  You can impute that quality to whomever you like.  I'm giving it to Rudy.

Although I'm not Jewish, I've known the term for as long as I can remember.  I was born in Hollywood, so that may explain it.  Californians are so weird.


On to Mitt.

Here's a little something from my Thesaurus:

3 a plastic smile ARTIFICIAL, false, fake, superficial, pseudo, bogus, unnatural, insincere; informal phony, pretend. ANTONYM genuine.

If you add 'plastic' in the sense of "... malleable, receptive, pliable, pliant, flexible; compliant, tractable, biddable, persuadable, susceptible, manipulable. ANTONYM intractable," then we have some vocabulary with which to talk about Romney.

I know, I know.  Rudy's positions on abortion and some other social issues are equally "complex."  But, having observed Romney over the years, I don't see complexity as much as I see opportunism.

Romney only sought the Governorship of Massachusetts as a stepping stone.  Everything he has done has been with an eye to running for President.  Being Governor for 4 short years was his only public office.  He has not spent time in the political trenches.  He has not held any other office.  He has not, in short, paid his dues.  I really dislike this.

I dislike Obama for similar reasons.  Obama vs. Romney is my nightmare Presidential campaign.

Clinton vs. Giuliani, well, we'd have something there, wouldn't we?

Fen said...

And thats why Giuliani is the front runner - he's moderate enough to swing voters like Joe @ 12:26. I would prefer Newt, but Rudy is a spoiler for 1) Hillary the Tyrant and 2) every Dem appeasing surrender weasel to her left.

Its about the War on Terror and making sure we get a POTUS who understands the threat. Hell, I would even vote for Joe Lieberman.

MadisonMan said...

Dick Cheney.

I actually had this same thought yesterday! Boy, wouldn't his candidacy liven things up!

Akiva said...

Leadership and just being a reasonable guy count for a lot. Rudy - tough when he needs to be, reasonable compromises at other times. He's like real, how odd in politics.

TMink said...

Excellent thread, lots of interesting thoughts that were well expressed.

My thoughts as a Conservative Christian are that I do not want to push many of my ideas on the world, but I absolutely will share them. Pat Robertson is nothing to me as he seems more concerned with power than love, ditto for most if not all of the political Christians.

It does feel as if when I, and people like me, pursue a pro life agenda in public we are accused of pushing our faith on other people while the pro abortion agenda is disguised as tolerance and women's rights. I think they are both the same, people using the political process to address their social concerns. Whether religious faith or secular belief, the end results are identical. I do not see much of that attitude expressed in the press or blogs though. It is more of an attitude that people who operate out of their faith and seek to influence culture are zealots while secular advocates are somehow superior. I am not buying it.

And Joe, what have we Conservative Christians done to tire you? This is a straight up question, I would appreciate hearing your thoughts.


Brigadier Pudding said...

Seems like Republicans are falling into the same trap the Democrats have for years -- i.e., settling for the guy they think is the most electable instead of picking the best candidate.

Which is why I find it hard to believe that Rudy will make it through the GOP primary, regardless of what he's polling right now. Republicans generally vote values and morals over electability.

Richard Dolan said...

"Explain that."

Well, you can't beat someone with no one. The current choices on the Rep side are Rudy, McCain, Mitt and (perhaps) Newt. It's not so hard to understand why Rudy is doing well in that grouping. And there's no one on the horizon -- at least, I'm not aware of anyone -- that has the heft to break into that magic circle.

JorgXMcKie said...

hdhouse made a funny. "he waffled on just about everything...stands...with whatever wind is blowing. beware the person who will say anything or not say anything to win you over."

I presume this means hdhouse did not vote for "I was for it before I was against it" Weathervane Kerry.

Simon said...

Brigadier Pudding said...
"Seems like Republicans are falling into the same trap the Democrats have for years -- i.e., settling for the guy they think is the most electable instead of picking the best candidate."

That comparison falls apart. The problem with Kerry wasn't that he was selected for being the most electable candidate, it was that he was a bloody awful candidate. There's no harm in picking the most electable candidate if that candidate's also a really good candidate on their own merits. Giuliani isn't a perfect match for many in the GOP, but he's a good match on many levels, and really, the only hurdle he has to clear is this one: when all factors are weighed, including electability, is he ahead of the other folks in the primary? Of all the candidate announced and likely so far, I think Rudy comes out ahead on that measurement.

Superdad said...

Lets not get to far out in front of this thing. Remeber 1992 - Clinton was never even in the race until he pulled an upset in the New York primary. One win can do a lot for a second rung candidate. Don't count Huckabee out just yet.

Revenant said...

Republicans generally vote values and morals over electability.

Well, they did just the opposite in 1988 and 2000.

Simon said...

Another thought on Rudy and Mitt from Chuck Todd, on my commute home: he suggests that one reason why social conservatives may be happier (or at least, more sanguine) than one might expect them to be with Giuliani is that they see all the contenders as compromises, and if you're going to have to compromise no matter what, you might as well pick the guy you like best. It's a thought.

Zeb Quinn said...

I don't see that Rudy being the frontrunner means that the Republicans are opting for electability over values. There are no acceptable Republican candidates that excel in the morals and values department. Don't say Romney, because Romney has a checkered history of squishiness when it comes to conservative bona fides too. When you get into comparisons, Rudy's assets are incomparable. Rudy is in some ways another Ronald Reagan.

Revenant said...

I think the big reason why Republicans are willing to consider Rudy is that he's a *leader*, and we're at war. Bush may have (mostly) the right politics for a Republican, but he monumentally sucks at providing clear leadership.

I know a lot of war supporters, myself very much among them, who feel that Bush has done a bad job of managing the war, but what's worse is that he has done an *atrocious* job of explaining what we're doing and why we're doing it, as well as a generally bad job of staying on goal (e.g. diverting anti-terrorist resources to crack down on porn and drugs).

I also think a lot of Republican voters take an extremely dim view of those Republicans who think that now is the time to blindly focus on ideological purity, as if abortion or gay marriage were even *remotely* the significant issues facing America today. This isn't 2000 anymore.

Simon said...

Revenant - I think of all the regular commenters here, you're the one whose politics I feel that I least understand. To what extent is your vote in play in '08? I mean, in particular, are you open to a Giuliani candidacy? What's your view on who's the leading contender right now?

Revenant said...

To what extent is your vote in play in '08? I mean, in particular, are you open to a Giuliani candidacy?

My top ten choices for 2008 are:

(1): Giuliani
(2): Probably not bothering to vote
(3): Gingrich
(4): Romney
(5): Almost certainly not voting
(6): Clinton
(7): Frank Zappa (yes I know he's dead)
(8): Hell freezes over
(9): McCain
(10): Someone else

Of course, I live in California, which means that my vote means nothing -- the state always goes blue unless there's a Republican landslide, in which case it isn't needed anyway.

What's your view on who's the leading contender right now?

If it was the Presidential election we were talking about it'd be Rudy hands-down, simply because he's the most centrist candidate (which usually equates to victory when there's no incumbent) and has some pretty significant accomplishments besides.

But I've got no feel at all for primary politics, since I'm far outside the base of either party. I do know quite a few "9/11 Republicans" who view Rudy as their candidate of choice, though.

Simon said...

Hmm. Okay. That list pleases me, but it surprises me a lot - I don't know why, but I'd thought you leaned a little more left than someone who'd order the list that way. Gingrich is someone I'd love to support if someone could show me the magic number.

Don't count California out. I wouldn't rule out Giuliani winning California. But then, I'm an optimist. ;)

By "9/11 Republicans," do you mean people who've gone the whole nine yards, like Charlie Johnson, or are you including someone like Ann, whose views basically remain intact, but who's kind of had her priorities reshuffled (if that's a fair characterization)?

Simon said...

Romney may not know it, but there is actually some more concerning news about Rudy today that might threaten his heat shield with conservatives.

Revenant said...

By "9/11 Republicans," do you mean people who've gone the whole nine yards, like Charlie Johnson

I've never gotten the impression that Johnson was much of a Republican, even post-9/11. Hating lefties and Islamists isn't the same thing, really. By "9/11 Republicans" I mean people who are serious about the war and recognize that the Democratic Party isn't.

I think Giuliani could win California, but I think he'll win the election in a landslide if he runs, so that's still covered by my earlier remarks.

I like Gingrich because he's pro-science and, unlike so many from the 1994 Republican majority, honestly DOES favor drastically shrinking the government.

Finn Kristiansen said...

To acknowledge Rudy as a front runner so early in the process is pointless.

Rudy leads, because Rudy is known.

But as other candidates get their names out, and as Rudy's personal baggage becomes more widely known, things will equalize.

Rudy and Romney, rather, will neutralize each other, with the one's business credentials canceling out the other's legal achievements.

Further, Rudy and Romney are both suspect on issues that some active conservatives find important.

In any election, R and R will split the vote, sharing all voters who are looking for something fresh, milder, or younger. MCain wins by default.

Galvanized said...

It seems that no matter who the Republican candidate ends up being is moot, isn't it, as the Dems are sure to win? So who better to at best make a healthy showing and pick up those straggling fenceline voters than a more liberal Republican?

Also, the GOP has gotten the message -- middle America, including younger middle-of-the-road Republicans, is turned off to the far-right with regard to moral issues. So who better to represent than one who is more moderate and progressive, AND a post-9/11 NY restoration hero to boot?

Guiliani is the closest the GOP could come to a viable candidate in the current climate. He has the tenacity to face down Hillary and the experience to challenge Obama, who will most assuredly pick up those more conservative Dems.

As for me, I'm a conservative Christian who simply believes that some moral and personal-choice issues should never have found their way to the platform,so this makes me part of an emerging demographic in right-wing politics. These red-faced issues have polarized the parties and muddied the waters to what's patently important, and many of us want to see them fade away so that we can regain focus.

GOP needs a moderate to even things out, as do the Dems (Obama). Hillary is not going to happen (too many enemies), Obama very well could (a fresh face), and Gore (Mr. Green/Anti-War) could sweep in at the last minute and take it all. Now, seeing Guiliani take on Gore would be fun. :) Personally, I wish Guiliani (Mr. Can-Do) the best.

Revenant said...

It seems that no matter who the Republican candidate ends up being is moot, isn't it, as the Dems are sure to win?

I just don't see it.

Bush is really unpopular, but neither he nor anyone remotely connected with him is running. Anyone trying to pin the events on the last six years on Giuliani or Romney is going to have a really tough sell -- especially in the former case, since people know who he is already.

Picture a Rudy/Hillary race. Hillary supported the Iraq war. Rudy wasn't even in office. How's that going to play? Obama's politics work better, but he hasn't got the credentials yet. He'll be President one day unless he screws up badly, but in 2008? No way.

GOP needs a moderate to even things out, as do the Dems (Obama).

Er... Obama's many things, but moderate? He may thump the Bible, but his politics are one hundred percent old-school New-Deal Liberal. He favors abortion, farm subsidies, environmental regulation, tax hikes, retreat from Iraq, nationalized health care... you name it.

The bar's set pretty low if all it takes to be considered a *moderate* Democrat is sincere belief in God.

Simon said...

Galvanized said...
"It seems that no matter who the Republican candidate ends up being is moot, isn't it, as the Dems are sure to win?"

We have a winner in our "most counterintuitive statement of the year" contest. ;) The Democrats are sure to win? What's the basis for that assertion? In 2004, as I see it, they couldn't beat George W. Bush, the most polarizing figure in modern political history (yes, more so than Clinton) and they have structured their party in a way that makes raw hatred of Bush as just about their only coagulent. What are they going to do when they -- and the wider electorate -- realize that Bush isn't runnin in 2008 and his record is a moot point for any of the leading contenders for the nomination? Moreover, I think you're forgetting that there are probably a lot of voters in the middle who think of themselves as liberal on social policy but who have similar concerns to Ann about the war on terror, and who desparately wanted to vote for Bush but couldn't quite hold their nose tight enough. Remove Bush from the equation and give these people someone they can vote for and they'll stay. These people get, as Revenant said above, that the Democrats aren't serious about a pressing and serious issue, and want an alternative. We'd be morons not to give them that alternative; nominate Sam Brownback, and they'll flee.

"So who better to at best make a healthy showing and pick up those straggling fenceline voters than a more liberal Republican?"

I suppose that if we were ready to write it off, sure, at that point you want to go down the Goldwater strategy and nominate Newt.

"[T]he GOP has gotten the message -- middle America, including younger middle-of-the-road Republicans, is turned off to the far-right with regard to moral issues."

The noisier of the young voters of course say they're sick of the culture wars (a statement that I can't help makes me sound very old - but at 27, arguably I'm a young voter), but people who harumph about moral issues in politics are usually engaged in a shallow ploy to declare victory while they're ahead. The idea that moral concerns have no electoral valance can't bne taken seriously; I would again restate the test:

"The best thought exercise I try to use to convey this point to [liberals] ... who suggest that the culture wars aren't about important issues, is to ask how they'd feel about a law that banned all abortions, in all circumstances, at any time after conception, in any place, without exception, punishable with mandatory jail time. If your answer is anything other than "I'd be fine with that," you are just as invested in the culture wars as everyone else, you're just on the other side."

And I agree with Revenant - where has this weird idea that Obambi is a moderate come from? I see a wolf in sheep's clothing - all the danger of a wolf and none of the honesty.

Joe said...


The religious right (which isn't simply conservative Christians, but shrill very conservative Christians) is fundamentally hypocritical. At once they state that we are agents unto ourselves and government should leave us alone, then turn around and ask for the heavy hand of government to legislate morality (the very thing governments are worse at.)

For example, I'm disgusted by the left which seems to revel in abortion as though it's some perverse Aztecian salvation blood ritual. Yet I can't accept the position of the right which refuses to recognize the blindingly obvious that to prevent a woman from having an abortion really is to deny her her fundamental rights.

My proposal is to allow unrestricted abortion for the first eight weeks and to allow it after that only to save the live of the mother. (Incidentally, I also believe a minor should get approval from a parent or guardian as they would with any medical procedure.) I believe this is a valid conservative position since it respects the rights of the individual to make choices for themself but tempers it.

Timothy K. Morris said...

ceaderford said,
"Outside NYC and small pockets of influential people elsewhere like Hollywood the term 'mensch' is alien to Americans"

Hot damn! Port Huron is a small pocket of influential people! Or maybe it was the Pontiac/Waterford area where I grew up. I don't recall a time I didn't know what mensch implied.

As for Giuliani's popularity with the Republican base. . . one of those middle-class values that gets overlooked by the self-defined liberals is the right to be left the hell alone - by your busy body neighbors as well as the government. Giuliani's views on abortion and gay marriage seem to indicate that he really believes some things are no one else's business. I'm not all that happy with his views on the Second Amendment, to the extent I know what they are, but I can live with them in exchange for his views on the war on terror and just what it means to be the last superpower standing.

Wave Maker said...

Well here's one bona fide conservative who's certainly anything but stupid who's joined Rudy. This is a blow to Mitt.

TMink said...

Thanks Joe, that post helped a lot. I see your point about some conservatives wanting to avoid big government, unless of course they are in charge.

For me, the mother and father's choice preceedes conception. After that, there is an innocent to be protected. But I appreciate the balance that you use to address women's rights and the rights of the as yet unborn. We just disagree as to when the unborn's rights kick in.

Again, thanks for the post.


Adjoran said...

It's understandable that Romney, mired in single digits in national polls of Republicans, should choose to "rough up" Rudy, who is showing remarkable strength despite his supposed Achilles heel among diehard conservatives. Rudy captured 2nd at CPAC without campaigning, against Romney's heavy effort, and lost the Spartanburg County SC straw poll to McCain by only two votes.

That's impressive strength in the bosom of hardcore conservative activists. Romney hopes to capitalize upon his first place showing by hitting Giuliani. McCain, despite his narrow win in SC, is faltering fast.

Meanwhile, Giuliani follows Reagan's Eleventh Commandment and has only nice things to say about his opponents. Frontrunners don't have to go on the attack, though - that falls to the also-rans.

The 2008 election won't be decided on abortion, nationalized health care, gay marriage, or ethanol subsidies. The question will be Iraq and the War on Terror, and how it ought be prosecuted. Democrats will offer retreat, defeat, and obsequience to our "allies" and the UN. Republicans will insist on success, and an aggressive policy in our national security interest.

Revenant said...

At once they state that we are agents unto ourselves and government should leave us alone, then turn around and ask for the heavy hand of government to legislate morality (the very thing governments are worse at.)

You're confusing two separate sections of the Right -- the quasi-libertarian economic conservatives, and religious conservatives. The latter have never been big supporters of the "the government should butt out" viewpoint of the former.

Also, I'd say there are a large number of things the government is worse at than legislating morality. Legislating the economy, for example. People mostly agree on morality -- getting them to agree on who should get the money and who should have to pay for it, now, that's something nobody agrees on.